If I didn’t know any better I’d say this season was on the verge of igniting a new supporting cast that doesn’t just fade into the quiet or end in twisty death. Sheriff Donna and Sheriff Jody return from separate episodes to battle Woodstock era vampires alongside the Winchesters in a classic monster fest. Being as “Hibbing 911” was a standalone from the main demon angle, it’ll be critiqued for the story it presented and the performance that followed.
As far as monsters go, vampires in Supernatural are akin to the shapeshifters in that they seem like the loose ends to a strong rope of creatures. The vampires in this world are a nuisance with the exception of Benny and maybe a few others. I never felt this show really wrapped a general theme that worked for them. There’s so many other creatures that resemble an addictive need, or a transitional state of change, or the basic primal attitude to kill and leave one’s morals to the dust. Sometimes there can be a sense of family, though werewolves are more inclined to explore that element. In the end, vampires feel a bit wasted on this show, and I don’t think this episode helped give them a change in that habit.
Having said that, the point of “Hibbing 911” was to join to supporting characters and watch them handle a few personal struggles while one discovers the existence of the supernatural. Sam and Dean were bit players and that was fine considering Jody is still one of the more charismatic characters over the last few seasons. Donna continues to be the good-natured and hospitable type while enduring her ex-husbands hazing, something Jody doesn’t appreciate in the least. What I felt worked between these two is that Jody was out of her element and had to force herself to attend the retreat while Donna seemed only too happy to be there and was as courteous and ever. With the ex-husband constantly inserting himself into the equation, both ladies were in a similar zone of discomfort and that allowed them to play off of each other. While Donna has home field advantage with viewing bodies, and getting assistance, Judy tended to her own strengths and intuition with what she knew and how to combat it.
They were a fun pair to watch work and on this show it’s easy to introduce a catchy guest star but you never know where that star will go or if we’ll ever see them again. I almost expect every standalone episode to return an old guest star from seasons past. It’s a cool technique and the show definitely has enough episodes full of characters to go around. It’s nice to see some throwbacks like that as long as it’s the right character.
The only real piece of development we got was Dean indicating to Sam he felt more normal having taken out the vampire nest and didn’t feel the pull of the mark getting to him. Unfortunately not ten second later, he’s gripping his arm and shielding it from Sam’s sight. It’s a continuation that Dean’s situation is deeper and more engrained than he’s letting on. What baffles me is that Sam is still falling for it. Both brothers after ten years should be a little past this charade. As personal as it may be for Dean, it’s hardly weakness to admit there’s something still wrong with him. He’s completely ignoring the problem and worse, he’s lying to Sam again, something so simple but hurtful at the same time. Sam’s resolve only goes so far and considering what he’s gone through, I wonder if he’ll snap if Dean keep up this liar’s course.
I actually liked the split dialogue between the Sheriff’s and the Winchesters at the end of the episode. Each had an entirely separate conversation and both were equally relevant given the short and long context of the narrative. It kept the consistency with wrapping up Jody and Donna’s run and prepared us for the possiblity that they’ll be teamed up again this season. That’s not a bad idea. As I stated way above, I would have easily preferred this over the Bloodline’s pilot, for sure.
It’s tough to give it to either brother and I’m starting to realize the basic four of the show shouldn’t always be defaulted as the only ones who can be the star. So, once more I’m giving the MVP to a guest star and it goes to Donna. Donna needed to edge, so to speak, to help elevate her character beyond the approachable good cop with a “Dontcha know” way about her. Letting her handle the final kill was the right call and she’s already showing signs with being comfortable living in a creature-filled world. She didn’t stand up to her ex-husband which was the only thing missing, but other than that she performed quite remarkably.
LONG TERM THOUGHTS
If the mark is affecting Dean again, is the solution to get him the knife until he can find a way to pass on the mark to someone else? How hard of a move is that and why hasn’t Dean thought about seeking a way to remove or pass on the mark of Cain?
We need to get right back in the thick of Crowley and his mother. Good cliffhanger, now don’t keep us hanging through the holiday break coming up.
Will there be a stronger witch presence this season and what kind of a threat would they be?
Will Crowley somehow manipulate Dean into becoming a knight of hell again?
Sam needs more to do. I’m not necessarily bored of his current angle, but I get the sense that maybe he’s the one getting bored. He doesn’t need a new love interest or anything so overt, just something else to keep him as relevant as the mark of Cain plot is to Dean.
6 out of 10. While I enjoyed the character interaction and the fussiness of Jody and Donna together, it was a rather dry and dull episode mixed with a carbon vampire plot and limited effects on the gore. Sometimes I wonder if these vampires understand that blood goes into the mouth, not all over the walls or through the dumpster pipe. The brothers had minimal screen time which wasn’t a band thing, but it was clear this episode wasn’t meant for them and in a sense they just got in the way of the main guest stars who had a lot more fun with their scenes, as they should. Only one more ep and I believe there will be a winter break coming up. Maybe leave us with something to really look forward to and some angle as to what this season will be about.
No more words